Power of Colour

The human eye can distinguish up to 10 million colours.
How on earth can anyone choose a favourite?

People react universally to colours found in nature, like moss greens, aqua blues, and earthy umbers.
The jury is still out to what intensity, because we all experience colour uniquely.
The next time you view a Van Gogh, the person standing next to you in the museum may be seeing an entirely different version.

Colour affects us psychologically, emotionally, and physically.
It can be used to treat obesity, invoke productivity, and calm patients with mental illness.
Universal human reactions include green and blues as the most calming, while the most stimulating are reds & oranges.
Aside from these, everyone has unique colour connection or sensitivity. Colour can stimulate memories, hunger, communication, strength and serenity. You may be drawn to robin’s egg blue, the colour of your childhood blanket, or comforted by rose pigment because of Grama’s rose water scent.

Thou you may not list “yellow” as a favourite colour, its psychologically the strongest, and the first colour the eye sees.

Yellow ochre, a natural clay may not be great for a blouse, but wheat fields shine with it in the sun’s golden glow. Against a cobalt sky promising welcome rain, it can be dramatic and powerful.

Still not sold?
It’s the colour of dijon mustard in your favourite sandwich, golden retrievers, and one of the earliest pigments found in prehistoric cave paintings.

Artists may balance strength of colour with subject.
For instance, a softer palette is paired with a dramatic ocean scene of strong pattern and shape.

A stimulating tangerine palette applied to a less active composition doesn’t overwhelm, inspiring serenity in the sunset lakeside vista.

The Amaryllis flower, painted in cad red’s contrasts with beautiful sensual line and the irony of a feminine subject displayed on large canvas.

We may react differently to colour at different phases or even days in life. People arriving to the studio stressed are usually drawn to serene, less detailed paintings. Others looking for cheerful powerful stimuli will respond to full pigment paintings. I switch my own personal collection around to support life events & changes.

Delving into your experiences with colour, you may be able to embrace more of the spectrum without judgement.
I cannot remember ever using hot pink pigment. Recently wearing a cycling jersey this colour kept me road safe and feeling spunky. It just may find it’s way to my palette.

Inquiring about the Amarylis painting a client said “I am drawn to red at this point in my life.” It’s an exciting time for her filled with wonderful new beginnings.

Here’s to summer friends! May mossy green forests, golden ochre fields, cobalt skies, tangerine sunsets and happy red flowers light your life.
Robert Genn Aug. 7th. 2012.
“Some painters nail the exact colour they need on the first go. I’m not one of them. In my experience, 90% share my problem. Colours change as the colours change around them — and you can’t know the colour of a passage until you’re picking up what you’re putting down. The situation is  compounded by the presence of (or desirability for) reflected lights, silhouettes, local colours, broken colours, cast shadows, equal intensity lay-bys, etc. Finding the right colour can be like looking for the Higgs boson.Understanding how colour works is largely a self taught skill.”

Colour is a power which directly influences the soul” ~ Wassily Kandinsky.

Sunset – 8×10 oil on board $455.oo
Lakeside 16×20 oil on canvas $935.oo
Ocean – 4ftx3ft oil on canvas $3950.oo
Evening Light 4ftx2ft oil on canvas $3600.oo
Amaryllis 30×40 oil on canvas $2700.oo

Exhibits and Mountain Cycling

Building a body of work for an exhibit is like road cycling in the mountains.

Unlike running where they need longer recovery, legs find a rhythm in the mountains, building strength day after day on the bike. It’s a unique phenomenon.

Tough challenging grades are targeted after several days of mountain cycling. Achieving this daily requires proper fuel and rest, walking, stretching, balancing endurance climbs with shorter ascents .

The Saskatchewan project feels like riding in the mountains. It is requiring great focus, physical, mental, and emotional endurance. The deeper I get into the work, each painting builds and evolves from the last. More ideas follow. The strength of the collection begins to take shape upon the cumulation of work.

Thou not in the beloved mountains these days, cycling helps to create great physical distance from the studio and find balance with work. With one  week totally 505k’s earlier this month, it’s helping me be productive and find confidence in the art.

On mountains excursions, days are limited, with so many to climb and explore.
Like this art project, reducing thousands of subject choices to a handful is a huge challenge.
Ideas now flow like thundering waterfalls. It’s peak days with the sands of time ebbing quickly.

In the words of the Beatles “I will get by with a little help from my friends.”
Thanks to Award winning Artist Julia Hargreaves for ongoing assistance curating the exhibit, honest feedback and endearing friendship.
To Dad for your steadfast support, allowing me to ship & store paintings at your home before transport to the gallery. To friends, family and clients who have marked their calendars to attend the exhibit. To Donna for her touching gift of a dress for opening night.
To the Hambleton Gallery for giving me space to work on the collection, allowing me to work on paintings for your venue later this summer.
To Marc, for making a wide berth of the studio, endless support and positive feedback.

Thanks to you, for collecting & sharing the work. Without you, this art would cease to be.

Keep busy while you are waiting for something to happen.”
Robert Genn.

The Mountain 3ft x 4ft oil on canvas ~ available to purchase

Sunset Cloud ( NEW) 11×14 oil on canvas ~ available to purchase

(work for exhibit is under wraps, hence the blurry studio photos.)

Note: Happy Father’s Day this weekend to all the great Dad’s!

Mine is a wonder of steadfast love, endless patience, and strength. A tremendous role model as father, husband, son, neighbour, friend, conservation officer, musician, avid reader, global citizen, humanitarian, and athlete. Thanks for the belief Dad, and letting me use the hammer.



Art’s Purpose

Art is meant to abundantly serve you.
If it was simply self expression, the work would never be released to the world, like private journals kept under lock and key, stuffed in drawers and closets.

The instant art is released to the world, its purpose is to deliver, nurture, guide, indulge, comfort, support, sustain, gratify, benefit, accommodate, and engage you.

Her images invite us to celebrate this world, to imagine that which lies on it’s outer edges, and to participate in a world moving in light” D.L

In the work, I am connecting to what’s outside within, not the other way around.
Drawing on energy around us, finding a way to channel that dimension and deliver it to you.
To connect and share story, experience, life. A universal language spoken in nature’s tongue.

A photo may capture the light, a painting beckons you to bath in it, drenched in colour and warmth.
It’s tangible living experience. The brush, a caress brought to life in pigment and energy.

The moment you acquire art, you become woven into the fabric of it’s story, of it’s legacy.
It’s journey truly begins the moment it finds you.

Note:  Similar powerful thoughts struck experiencing Van Gogh’s work in person. It was as thou I was sitting on a wooden stool in the field right beside him.
So you see it? He asks. Do you feel it, with the clouds overhead, violet shadows dancing before you? Here we are, together, in the field under the summer sun by the olive trees, centuries apart, reaching thru time in this moment eternal.

I am knee deep working on the Sask Exhibit collection, cocooning now toward a deadline. This journey is by far one of my most challenging. So excited to share this new body of work with you in the fall! The new paintings released today have the flavour of what’s to come. Enjoy!

New Work:

Windswept 11×14 oil on canvas $600.oo CAD
Morning at the Lake 12×16 oil on canvas $700.oo CAD


Room with a View

Do you yearn for a view?
Opening the exterior wall, what would you see? offices? concrete? a neighbours house? nature?

What if you could control that view? Choose it.

Knocking out a wall might not be feasible, budget friendly, or the view you pine for.
Art may be your answer.

Unlike a window, art is portable, will outlast furniture, flooring, wall paint.

Infusing your space with colour and reflective light, art will awaken your senses similar to a spectacular view.

Art breathes life into a room, and to the people within it.

“If you want something to match your couch, buy a pillow.” a famous collector said.
Art isn’t a fixture for walls. Forget trend and ‘matching’ fashion.
It’s your view, make it your own.

We are beyond the restrictive mythical belief that art is decorative.
Humans engage in, respond, interact with art in powerful ways.

Our pupils actually vibrate when viewing art, offering evidence of a direct energetic response. ( further reading on habitat vitamins ~ click here )

And that is just the beginning.

This article suggests the area of the brain that experiences not just emotion, but goal setting is activated when viewing art.
From Visual Thinking Strategies:
“We also found that given certain key elements in the design of aesthetic encounters, growth in critical and creative thinking accompanied growth in aesthetic thought. In other words, in the process of looking at and talking about art, the viewer is developing skills not ordinarily associated with art. These findings were consistent over a wide range of cultural and socioeconomic contexts.”

Orchestrate your view, illuminate a world of possibilities. ‘See’ what unfolds.

What’s your view?


New Work available for purchase:

North 14×18 oil on canvas

Sunup 16×20 oil on canvas

Behind the Scenes

Successful career Artist Philip Harris’s contribution to a Visual Arts post,
“A day in the life of an artist” tallies his daily activities mimicking some of the Greats.
Expressing his wit, he states,
“I’m convinced that friends and family believe that I spend my days wearing a smoking jacket and swapping witty aphorisms with the characters from a novella by Oscar Wilde.”

Thou you may not picture me wearing such a jacket, your recent inquiries about exhibits, work habits, what am I up to, hint of mysterious smoke.
Let’s clear the air, go behind the scenes for a moment, and tackle these burning questions, friends!

1. Do you paint everyday?

I work every day.
I paint 4-6 days a week depending on scheduling. Being prolific doesn’t mean it comes easy. I don’t have a smidgen of so called ‘natural talent,’ (see my Mother’s Day card below. My brother did the printing).

I am prolific because I work really hard. I keep routine to conserve headspace for the canvas, have developed some proficiencies, like prepping boards, organizing tools, reference filing, etc.

If not in the field, I work in my home studio, a lovely space with amazing light thru the day, built by Marc. At times, visitors come to sit in the rocking chair with tea, remarking it’s a ‘sanctuary space.’ I would agree.

Being self employed -full time, like other business owners, I wear a lot of hats. (or jackets). Responsibilities beyond painting include inventory collection, gallery visits/ calls & updates submissions, field research, sourcing new venues, social media, website updates, exhibit research, industry research, press release writing, marketing& sales, ( some clients may purchase one painting in their lifetime, it’s a necessary cog in this wheel to always be sourcing new collectors.) logistics, deliveries, wrapping & shipping ( it can take half a day to wrap a painting for shipping).

The blogs have attracted attention from Fitness & Health magazines in the US and Australia, dealers, gallery owners, investment collectors, new & veteran collectors, artists, neighbours and cousins, people from all walks of life from 8 – 92.
Because the newsposts are a big part of my business, I spend a lot of time researching ideas and writing. At any given time I have a dozen newsletters half written. If I am crunched for time, working on the art, I can finesse a post I had begun previously.

2. Do you ever run out of ideas for painting?

No. Never. I run out of supplies. Literally.
To paint more, I need to sell more, it’s a business balance.

3. Since the exciting Sask Exhibit announcement, questions filter in weekly.

How did it come about?
After meeting Bill 8 years ago, and handing him my card, he mentioned the possibility of showing my work. I didn’t let that idea die, and was in touch regularly with him after that. It was years before I was accepted. The last two have been sorting out details of timing, inventory requirements, etc. Exhibits never happen overnight, certainly not in a reputable gallery like the Shurniak. A few artists have written since,“ It’s every Artists dream to show there.”

How will the Exhibit work?

The show will run from Oct. 1, to Nov. 30. I will attend the opening, then return to close up the show.
They have asked for up to 30 or so pieces, depending on size. With a solo show within the gallery ( the permanent collection is always on display) ,I am allowed to have my own theme, choose sizes, subject matter ext. It’s a wonderful freedom, as for most showings the artist has to meet gallery criteria of sizes, themes, etc.
Shurniak Gallery is a non-profit. Any sales will take place after the exhibit with collectors getting in touch with me directly.
Work has to be complete at least a month- 6weeks prior to the show for drying purposes, shipping and cataloguing.
I won’t publicly show the collection for the exhibit until after the show opens, thou you have glimpsed two pieces.
~ in the meantime, I need to work on new inventory for my representing gallery in Kelowna, and inventory I can keep selling thru the months until Oct.

This brings me to the next question.

4.“If we don’t see a post from you we think you have quit painting.”

This news blog is an interesting phenomenon. Over a dozen clients mentioned this when the post was getting blocked by the web server. If you don’t check the website for recent posts & work, with dates listed, and contact me, I have no way of knowing who may or may not be getting the posts.

For the record, I am painting a lot, and with this new body of work being kept under wraps, please know I am here for you, even if I am quiet. Quiet is when I do my best work. :))
There is a great selection of paintings available for purchase. I would love to help you with your collection.

5. “You must feel so rewarded when you finish a painting”.

I never feel like the work is finished until it finds a home. Because of this it can be a roller coaster of emotions at any given time. The work itself is always developing, and that’s pretty cool. I am pleased with the momentum and look forward to continuing the trek.Its utter joy to be creating something that has never been before, every day. .

What else?

Once in awhile I help Marc design furniture. He is an incredible craftsman with an engineering mind, whose creativity continues to grow. It’s amazing to see one of my sketches come to life in 3-D.

He is super passionate for music, kindly getting us out of our respective studios to see wonderful live original music. Music replenishes the soul! In my spare time I can be found on my bike, running, wandering trails, reading, etc.

Thanks for your letters, continued interest & collection of the work, and lovely cards!
Wishing you all good things from the studio!

P.S ~ You’ve asked about my role models.

My Mom was a huge influence in my life. She was my creative sounding board, compass and BFF. A self proclaimed badass, she was my hero in every way. I miss her every single day, and like to believe a light that shone that bright, never really goes out.
The Daisy painting was donated to Watrous Hospital in her memory.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing Mom’s out there.


New Work  all avail for purchase~ Daisies & Hydrangea- 11×14 oil on canvas
Evening Light – 4f x2ft oil on canvas

Other Photos:
Paint box. Mother’s Day card drawing _ not recent. :0)
Shipping material :One of three rolls of varying materials I use for shipping.
Birch painting on display in Anchor Coffee House avail. for purchase
Drawing new chair design- Marc’s  previous work and new chair in progress, half finished.                                                                                                                             My bike
Mom, Mom & Dawn
Daisy painting donation 22×28 oil on canvas

Ancient Beckoning

I began to crave nature. A soulful yearning for the quiet voice of the wind without urban interruption.
A desperate ache to hear rainfall on leaves & trickle in creeks running pure, birds greeting the day.

I longed for the invigorating scent of woods draped in morning dew, mingled with pine.
My feet desired soft moss underfoot, lungs to drink fresh air.
I needed to feel the heartbeat of the earth and breath of the sun.

I wondered, could I feel it in the paint? Could I return there, to the quiet hush, and feel nature’s breath?

and if I could… would other’s feel it too?


In art, nature communicates a connection requiring no language, nor explanation, and constructs no barriers.
It universally unites.
I hope you feel it too.

New Work:
Wilderness wander – 24×30 oil on canvas
Waterlily garden- 12×36

Canadian Art Specialist ~ Feature Interview

A rare Lawren Harris sketch exceeded estimates of $400,000 to $600,000 selling at auction in 2016 for a record $977,500 CAD.

Remarkably, it was the first live auction held by the new auction firm Consignor Canadian Fine Art, formed in 2013.

The sketch’s story of discovery and retrieval from Australia by Consignor’s president, Rob Cowley is just as remarkable.The news made international headlines, with articles published in the Globe & Mail, and McLean’s Magazine.

This wasn’t the first record sale for the firm.
June 2014, 8 artists records were broken at auction.
Consignor’s offering of Jack Bush’s Summer Lake broke online auction records in May 2014 for the most expensive painting by a Canadian artist to be sold in an online auction ($310,500)*

Last November, 2017, a Lawren Harris sketch tripled previous auction record.

The Consignor Fine Art Team, formed originally from an online auction site (consignor.ca) of Mayberry Fine Art, consists of ( left-right) President Rob Cowley, Vice Presidents Lydia Abbott and Ryan Mayberry. Their head office is located in a historical building directly across from the AGO in Toronto.

Their head office is located in a historical building directly across from the AGO in Toronto.

Mr. Cowley is recognizable from frequent National TV appearances offering appraisal expertise, information on the International Art Market, and the 10 Commandments of buying art.

As a full time artist, one of the many joys is meeting diverse clients and the privilege to see & hear about your extensive art collections.
Questions surrounding purchasing work at galleries, or how to purchase/ sell collections at auction often arise in conversation. If it were me, who would I turn to? The Mayberry family has a long standing reputable name in Canadian art, with Consignor quickly establishing an outstanding reputation in the art auction industry. I trust them implicitly.

To cover the auction topic more extensively, I reached out to the President of Consignor himself.
Not only did I discover Rob Cowley personable and patient, he kindly agreed to answer my questions for this feature post.

Rob, why did you choose this business? what delights you about it?

I began in the auction business through an employment agency about 18 years ago. I interviewed at a Toronto auction company and worked in their accounting & administration office for about two years. When Joyner Canadian Fine Art merged with the firm in 2002, I was appointed the administrator for the Canadian art division and learned on the job through several years, training as a specialist and an auctioneer.

I love the community of our industry. I have the fortune to not only meet and converse with new people every day, but also to have relationships with collectors, dealers, curators, academics, consultants and art-lovers through many years and central to our conversations and business is an appreciation and discussion of art. For many of those who we know well, we are their destination to discuss their passion and I feel very lucky to have that connection to people.

And, of course, the art! Our work connects us with incredible examples of artwork by many of our country’s most renowned artists. Through the years, I have been fortunate to bring numerous major works of art to the auction market, but have also been privileged to view countless private collections, seeing masterpieces which may never be visible by the public. The hunt, discussion and research related to the incredible artwork I have offered over the years is very rewarding.

Pretend readers are completely green, can you take us briefly thru the auction process?
what defines the secondary market?

The auction process typically begins with a client contacting our firm and sharing details of the artwork which they own and may be considering for sale (or wish to have appraised for a variety of reasons – insurance or donation, for example). Through our website and e-mail or through a meeting in our gallery or at their location of convenience, we view the artwork and then research the work to see if we can assist.

If the artist of the artwork has a past history of sales at auction and has a fairly active recent auction market, we can then provide the client with a preliminary auction estimate (a range), which gives an idea of how the artwork could perform in the near future, based on how similar works by the artist have performed in recent auction seasons.

A prerequisite for offering is the past offering of the artist’s work at auction. Auction relies solely upon past history by each artist at auction, generally not taking into account the artist’s performance in other markets (such as through retail galleries or private sale). If an artist does not have any past sales at auction, we usually cannot offer the artwork but do our best to provide other avenues to the client for possible sale.

The secondary market is defined by the sale and trade of artwork which is not being sold  for the first time. Auction houses, retail galleries and private dealers are all involved in the secondary market, offering artwork that is usually not directly from an artist, the process being the resale of an artwork.

I understand artists cannot submit their own work?

This is correct. As the auction market is limited to artists who have had past offering and sales through the auction market, we are limited and cannot offer the work of artists directly.

Your friendly informative T.V appearances are a unique way to educate & reach out to National audiences.
The industry is often represented as a “ behind closed doors” business.
Is this part your goal as the new fresh face of the industry, welcoming questions and interaction with clients, in a world where some felt that only those ‘in the know’ were welcome?

Absolutely. We feel that the art market in general can create apprehension with the general public. Often movies and television portray auction houses and art galleries as stuffy and pretentious places where those who are not “in the know” will not feel welcome. As well, auction tends to be portrayed as an environment where every items sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) and that if you scratch your nose, you may accidentally buy an expensive artwork.

Of course, this is far from the truth. Lydia, Ryan and I work very hard with our team to provide education through our media appearances and let the public know that our auctions and auction previews are open to the public and that we happily provide service to collectors at all levels, including beginners. With the great number of fantastic and affordable original works of art available through our live and online sales, auction is a great way to collect and our specialists are delighted to meet and chat with clients who have any questions. We offer artwork at all value levels and a great deal of the works in our sales (especially online) are valued below $1,000 (and many below $500), providing great opportunities to collectors.

We not only provide details of the artwork which we offer, but also walk clients through the auction bidding process. Our online sales are run through our proprietary and easy-to-use bidding software (built and maintained by Ryan Mayberry) and allow clients to bid at home or on-the-go with their computer, smart phone or tablet. The live auctions allow clients to attend and bid in person, however they can also leave absentee (maximum) bids or bid via telephone, should they be unable to attend or feel any apprehension related to the public bidding process. For both our live and online auctions, we feature extensive previewing of the artwork in our Toronto gallery, allowing clients to see the offerings in person and discuss the artwork and bidding process with our specialists, ensuring comfort with the artwork and their bids.

How does the Canadian auction market differ from the US? We see extraordinary prices published at International auctions, can you share why some of these paintings are receiving such high prices? you mentioned once in an interview that Canadian buyers are more ‘responsible buyers’ at auction. why is this?

One of the central differences between the Canadian and International markets at auction is that Canadian artwork is mainly collected by Canadians, whereas the international markets attract collectors globally. This is the prime reason why you will witness astronomical prices for works by historical and contemporary works sold in New York and London auctions annually – bidding can come from a multitude of nations, markets and economies. At auction in Canada, although we do witness interest outside of Canada for certain artists and schools, the majority of serious bidding comes from within our borders. This relative smaller audience of bidders and potential buyers will limit the prices in the majority of the auction market, again in relative comparison to prices we witness in the United States and overseas annually.

It also means that when corrections in the auction market occur, there is not always a dramatic drop in the Canadian art market. I do believe that a great deal of the collecting public in Canada display discipline at auction. Quality and rarity tend to be central for the works that sell at dramatic levels, far beyond expectation and we often witness that collectors will not respond with bids where an artwork has been aggressively overpriced. During market correction, the auction market still witnesses records set, often for those works that collectors have been hunting to accentuate their collections, but the challenges are evident with artwork of less rarity (collectors waiting on these works until the market shows greater health).

Circumstances surrounding a piece of art may increase it’s value, you expressed in an interview, offering Tracks & Traffic- by JEH MacDonald as an example, because this possibly was first time Group of Seven Members, Harris and MacDonald, painted together in the same location.
Do many pieces have these kind of perhaps unknown to the general public circumstances?

Yes, Tracks and Traffic provided many different factors which drew the interest of collectors. Some of these factors included:

The artist – JEH MacDonald is recognized as a central member of the Group of Seven, one of our country’s most celebrated associations and important art movements;

The subject – the early view of Toronto is the type of subject which excite collectors of Group work, these scenes not only providing a look at our country more than a century ago, but also marking the earliest of work that future members of the Group of Seven created together (MacDonald and Lawren Harris’ early sketching sessions included these locales in Toronto);
the association – the canvas of the subject  is housed in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s collection and is well known within Canadian art history. As well, the canvas and sketch are reproduced in many books and references related to Canadian art history;

The rarity – the Group of Seven created many oil sketches in the field, however only a relative small number would lead to a larger canvas. Tracks and Traffic was one of these works by MacDonald, indicating its importance to the painter;

Beyond these factors, we also take into account the size; medium; quality; period; condition; what is in fashion in the current market. The painting touched on each of these factors as well. With all of these criteria in play, the painting was one that attracted many bidders when it was sold in our November 2016 auction.

We take into account these ten factors (which we call “commandments”) when valuing artwork for offer at auction, looking at comparable works by each artist which have been offered at auction in recent seasons and years. Often, the more factors which are valid, the potential for greater interest for collectors and a higher pre-sale valuation for auction.

Through our research, writing of accompanying essays and promotion (both public and direct to collectors), we work to educate potential bidders to these factors, providing the historical importance of the artwork.

Who is buying Canadian Art at Auction? Who buys Internationally?( we read about Russians, Chinese & Koreans active in art acquisitions).

Mainly we witness Canadians participating in the purchase of Canadian artwork at auction, whether they live in Canada or abroad, however we have been seeing more interest from art collectors outside of Canada over the last decade or so. We have witnessed interest, bids and purchasers from the United States, Europe and Asia through our live and online auctions. Artists such as Jean Paul Riopelle, Jack Bush and Sorel Etrog are offered regularly at auction outside of Canada and we do witness interest from buyers outside of our borders when we have such works on offer. As well, given the international exhibitions of artwork by Lawren Harris, Emily Carr and the Group of Seven in the past decade, we do also encounter interest in these painters’ work from non-Canadian buyers. That being said, we still do witness a great deal of the buying of blue-chip Canadian works of art coming from Canadians.

Do you see Canadian art growing on the global stage?

I think as we continue to see Canadian art featured in international exhibitions, it can lead to an increase in international interest in the work created by our artists. This leads at least to an education of our artwork and history, which could lead to more buyers outside of our population over time.

What would you advise to those hoping to purchase at auction? what kind of research can they do prior?
It is always best to do your homework. Read the auction catalogues but also find other books and websites to learn about the artists and artwork. Attend the auction previews and speak with the specialists to find out more about the artwork of interest. The specialists can assist in letting you know specifics related to the artwork, but also related to the artist and current market for their artwork. Attend art institutions regularly and read as much as you can about those artists and schools where you have an interest, providing you with a well-rounded view of the artwork and history within which it originated. Before bidding, set your limit and stick to it. While auction houses are happy to see record-breaking prices, we also wish to see bidders enjoy the experience and buy within their comfort zone, rather than having any regret associated with a purchase.

Clients hoping to sell their collection? how do they prepare?

The best first step is to contact our specialists for a general discussion of the artwork which they are considering parting with through auction. From there, we can meet with the client and examine the artwork. Following research, we can then provide preliminary auction estimates and proposed and simplified terms of sale. If the client is not able to meet with us (being outside of the Toronto area), we can meet with them during our national travels (which occur regularly) or we can also work through the process via e-mail. There is no cost or further obligation attached to this confidential process.

What are the 10 commandments to buying art?

-Taking into account the artist’s market at auction historically

-Subject matter that is the most celebrated by an artist will tend to be more heavily sought by collectors, leading to the potential of a more aggressive pre-sale auction estimate than an out-of-the-ordinary subject by an artist. For example, generally a floral still life by Lawren Harris will carry a more conservative auction estimate than a landscape.

-Usually a larger artwork will command a higher pre-sale auction estimate, however in our current climate, very large art can face challenges at auction where collectors tend to have less wall space (related to smaller homes, down-sizing etc.), leading to sometimes more conservative values for larger works than in years past at auction.

-Generally, an oil painting will command a higher price at auction than a work on paper and reproductions will fetch even less.

-Artwork that has been included in important collections and/or exhibitions, as well as works which have been featured in books and research will often have added value at auction.

-An artist’s “prime period” will often command stronger estimates and results at auction than periods outside. Generally, work the Group of Seven tends to command the highest prices when it originates from the period when the Group was associated, during the 1920s and early 1930s.

-Generally, a quickly painted work by an artist can carry a lower value at auction than one where where artist may have spent more time, for example.

-An artwork in poor condition or one which has been restored poorly, will usually be valued more conservatively than a work which is in pristine condition.

-Rarity can lead to auction values that are either more aggressive or more conservative. The preparatory work for a major canvas will likely lead to a more aggressive result, where an early student work by an artist (that does not resemble the painter’s strongest work) can lead to more conservative interest from collectors. Both are rare, but will lead to different interest at auction.

-This factor reflects artists, schools and movements which may be popular with collectors currently, leading to greater interest with bidders. A current example would be Maud Lewis – with the release of the movie about her life in the last couple of years, interest has never been greater for her work at auction, with record prices occurring regularly.

Who are the more prestigious Canadian & International Artists sought at auction? who makes this decision?obviously market demand, but what other factors come into play? how do some rise dramatically in the rankings?

In Canada, some of the artists in greatest demand currently are:
The Group of Seven
Lawren Harris (part of the Group, of course)
Emily Carr
Jean Paul Riopelle
William Kurelek
Jack Bush
Paul Emile Borduas

The market does drive this interest; however it is usually in response to significant and rare works being available, attracting a great number of serious collectors and the potential for record-achieving prices. When a record is set for an artist, it will often draw out further works of quality, leading to the potential of a trend for an artist continuing. We have witnessed this in recent years at auction with the work of the artists I have listed above.

About the Harris sketch ‘Algoma Sketch 48’ story from our opening paragraph, why did the Australian collector choose you to contact?

We were very excited to receive contact from the family who owned Algoma (Algoma Sketch 48). We not only recognized the quality of the painting, but also the high level of rarity. The painting had never appeared at auction in the past, having been in the family’s collection after purchase from Laing Galleries in 1940. As well, the painting was the source for at least five canvases by Harris, a very rare occurrence as Harris rarely repeated subject matter in his larger works.

The family was excited not only by our enthusiasm but also in our commitment to ensure that the selling process was as simple as possible. This included us travelling to Australia and collecting the painting personally from the family, alleviating any stress associated with the process of shipping such a special and valuable painting internationally.

The personal and attentive service we provided included a high level of promotion for the painting leading to national headlines and a final selling price that doubled expectation, selling for a record just shy of a million dollars.

What do you see in the future with art collecting in Canada? has technology changed how we collect, share, exhibit and auction work?

I believe that the art market will continue to show development related to technology, allowing collectors continued and increased access to artwork and services. However, central to the market will continue to be the need for traditional and personalized assistance from professionals. Art is both personal and social and our team strongly believes that connection, discussion and education are of the utmost importance for a healthy market.

Can you share highlights of your next auction in May 2018?

Yes! We are delighted to share details of our Spring Live Auction of Important Canadian Art, taking place at the Gardiner Musuem in Toronto on Tuesday, May 29th. The auction is listed on our site now (www.consignor.ca) and includes significant and rare work by William Kurelek, Bill Reid, the Group of Seven and Emily Carr.

The cover piece for the catalogue is Hot Day in Kensington Market by William Kurelek

The 1972 painting was included in multiple important exhibitions and also featured in a book by Kurelek, O Toronto, which featured 21 works by the painter dedicated to the city of Toronto. This painting has never been offered at auction and is a joyous and chaotic scene of a summer day in Toronto’s Kensington Market, a celebration of the city, summer and multiculturalism. The painting’s quality and rarity has already excited collectors of Kurelek’s work since we began promotion in the past couple of weeks.

What’s next for Consignor?

We are working on holding more auctions than in the past (the first half of 2018 featured more auctions than we have ever held during the same time period) with more themed online auctions, geared towards the new, emerging and established collector.

Thanks so much for your professional information, insight & patience with my questions. Clients, readers & I appreciate your kindness!

Thank you! It is a pleasure to chat and discuss our firm and the market.

For more about Consignor, and to view upcoming auction features, view their easy to navigate site at https://consignor.ca

Photos permission of Consignor~ Above:

Algoma 48 Lawren Harris

Consignor Auction Catalogue ( Algoma 48 cover photo)

Consignor team & office photos- Consignor website

Rob Cowley auction photo- provided by Mr. Cowley

Tracks and Traffic- J.E.H MacDonald- Consignor website

New Auction Catalogue ~ May 2018 ~Consignor media

Artist Mantra & Mission

“Thou shalt paint to please thyself.”
“Thou shalt be hard to please.” Robert Genn.

Beyond the fruition of hard work, style matures when an artist:
• Pushes their boundaries
• Listens to informed critics while censoring the others.
• Has an audience
• Experiments with tools, genres, mediums, methods, techniques.
• Insulates/ Isolates oneself to create.
• Purges bad habits & develops good ones. Recognizing which is which.
• Is a tough self critic.

Mastery of skill can be achieved but it may still fall flat to connect.
Balance of skill & audience connection can be as elusive as finding the space between thoughts.
Growth usually happens in such small increments it sneaks up & surprises you, rarely occurring in lightening bolt epiphanies.

Many great artists have a percentage of dissatisfaction in their work.
(Robert Bateman stated during a radio interview he doesn’t feel he has ever achieved a masterpiece.)
Like the professional athlete striving for a Personal Record, pro artists seek their own path of improvement.

Unlike athletes, for artists, it isn’t about efficiencies & speed, but about striving for quality and communication.
Listening to their self critic keeps the opportunity for growth alive.
Maintaining confidence, while checking ego at the door, opens the door to improvement.

About the New Work: Waterfall/ Algonquin 14×18, Wilderness at Sunrise 24×36 :Wandering in the wilderness,  rarely do we see each leaf, tree branch or sprig of moss underfoot, as it would be captured in a photo.
Mostly, we see a collection of shapes, merging colour, fleeting light, shadow play. Individually, we experience a collection of emotions. It may be curiosity, peace, thrill, joy. We are drawn to different elements, like that baby tree illuminated among older growth, with spring moss rolling beneath.

My work involves emotionally driven content in order to enhance this kind of experience & individuality.
I apply texture, earthy under painting, and ethereal light elements. The work is less detailed to reduce noise,creating restful places for your eyes & heart. Hoping it opens doors for your imagination, memories and emotions to take hold & ignite.
The goal isn’t to illustrate or to share personal story,it’s for you to find a home in the work. That, my friends, is the ultimate reward.

~ P.S “In order to create, artistic people need be alone. Isolation is key. If you have to be lonely in order to be free, learn how to tolerate a little bit of loneliness. It’s hard, but you are strong, you can do it.” James Taylor
Biography Master Class~ James Taylor~ see the inspiring episode here, its well worth watching from beginning to end.

Influential Design

Interior design’s primary focus is functionality & aesthetics dictated by trend, products or fashion.
Great design can be so much more.

We spend 90% of our lives indoors.
Besides increasing quality time outside, we can orchestrate indoor surroundings for optimum wellness & productivity, based on specific needs and integrating nature.

Humans are incredibly influenced consciously, and unconsciously by environment.The power of influential design is remarkable.One industry that knows this very well is the field of advertising. Millions are allocated researching influencing elements of behaviour. ( ex: how we respond to colour, music, sound levels, shape, texture, scent, views, etc.)
We can use this information advantageously, applying it positively to dwellings, health facilities, educational venues, offices, industry, lobbies, clinics, and public spaces.

A healthy dwelling may involve using sustainable non toxic materials and applying wellness architecture. ( click here )
One step further, is to create influential indoor experience for positive behaviour, improved health, productivity, sleep, communication, engagement, nutrition, etc.
An interview with architect Barbara Stewart in Psychology of Interior Design describes these kind of design elements in depth. ( Its well worth the read. click here )
Stewart says it’s no surprise many people want wood floors, because they ‘replicate the forest floor.’
She mentions paying attention to how we will move in the space, “meander as thou on a path in nature’….’ if a zoologist designed human habitat, it would’ reinforce natural patterns and reduce stressors.”

Focus on personal needs and inspirations. Create a narrative within your dwellings. Apply tactile, texture, sound, colour, form, and comfort experiences. What activities will take place and who will visit the space?

• Humans are drawn to natural pattern & shape. Consider furnishings, their placement, and everyday items like dishes.
• Plants reduce air pollution and invite the outdoors in. We are meant to live among nature. Biophilic design and living walls are a growing industry,(!) applied to residential, commercial, even manufacturing venues.
• Make the most of natural light. Large windows and doorways beckon us outside.Skylights reduce the feeling of confinement.
• Passageways can be under-utilized. Relaxing colourful scenes ease transition from living room to bedroom. Brush past a basket of cozy blankets, while soothing scents and music fill the air.
• Nature art is the most recognized for health & wellness. It’s universal multigenerational appeal is cross cultural and biological. Nature views and imagery improve healing in patients, they use less pain medicine & sleep better. Nature art reduces anxiety in high stress corporate environments, and reduces mindless over-eating in controlled studies.

We can no longer take for granted what is placed within our spaces, displayed on walls and it’s ability to influence our decisions, work, rest, creative fire, fitness and health.

All New Work Available for sale, please contact me.

“Stand” or “Forest in Summer” 16×20 oil on canvas

“Evening Sun” 4ftx2ft oil on canvas

“Bronco” 16×20 acrylic and charcoal on canvas 600.00 CAD ~ sale proceeds to be donated.
Donation art :
I was born & raised in beloved Saskatchewan. In the province I consider home, my roots run very deep. Home can mean many things, for me it’s family, the parks I grew up in, rural neighbourhoods, vast open skies, abundant wilderness, wildlife and farming communities. For many generations, hockey and curling are embedded in community and families. My parents built their dream home about 40 minutes from Humbolt, where my Dad still lives.My cousin played for the Broncos for 4 years. The devastating news this week is beyond description. My heart goes out to the victims families and people affected by this terrible loss.
Entire sale proceeds of the new “Bronco” will be donated to the Humbolt Broncos.  To view more photos of the drawing & to see it in progress, please see my Instagram page. email me for details dawn@dawnbanning.com

Comfort Level

Endurance sport teaches one to “Become comfortable with being uncomfortable”.
This gold nugget of wisdom also applies to creativity.
It builds emotional resilience, confidence, tenacity, growth, physical and creative endurance.

What does it mean to be comfortable with being uncomfortable?

Aside from elements you can control ( like training, preparation, practice) you understand and accept there will be unknown variables in every (painting/ race) and moments will arise where you will be ‘uncomfortable’.

The benefit of this acceptance, is it frees one to move forward without being attached to fear of failure.
It also creates an opportunity to conserve positivity, while not wasting energy rejecting/ fighting this variable when it occurs. It helps to be both open and curious in these moments.
I am not suggesting anticipating obstacles in negative fashion, rather, not being freaked out when it happens.

An example:
I came upon a friend at the 30k mark in her first marathon, announcing she wasn’t feeling well. After ruling out injury, dehydration, & nutritional concerns, we concluded she was struggling with not feeling as fresh as she did earlier. These feelings compounded because she was angry for being tired, anticipating a different experience. I assured her no one was feeling zippy at that point in the race. “You are uncomfortable, and it’s ok”.
In acknowledgement, there is release.

Uncomfortable feelings and setbacks may increase with rigid expectations, in both art & sport.

In Ironman racing, so many variables are beyond the athletes control it can feel overwhelming. Training involves body & mind, learning there will be moments of uncertainty & feeling uncomfortable. Knowing this can be the edge one needs to stay on track. Approaching the start line, reassurance lies in the many hours of training, controlling elements that can be controlled, and then, going with the flow.

It may seem a stretch to compare painting a picture to endurance sport, but when one’s livelihood depends on it, performance pressure can take a toll on both athletes and artists.

Do artists develop their process thru failed attempts, then, finally ‘get it’ and woo woo, ride the train of prolific effortless productivity for the remainder of their careers?
Humility and a Bonfire”, dispels this myth.

Two similar aspects of endurance sport & art relate to results and performance.

Being a professional doesn’t mean constant flawless performance. The great ones master the art of letting go, failure doesn’t own them, it’s just part of the process.
They step to the start line respecting the process in sport & art.
No matter the outcome, the fire to improve, evolve & master doesn’t fade.

In painting, each canvas is a new puzzle to solve. Each may thrill, motivate, frustrate and humble an artist. Many decisions are made along the way, not in advance. It’s like having a box of four puzzles in pile, trying to figure what might fit and what doesn’t. Once those decisions are made, you cannot go back.

In painting, rule is think twice, paint once, yet, ironically, don’t overthink. Artists walk a tightrope between the two. A famous artist whose career spans decades confessed to me he “feels fearful every time he faces a new canvas.”

Every canvas is a new story, with it’s own unique challenges and discoveries. Coping with unexpected variables builds adaptability. Research suggests it may increase neuroplasticity because of the ‘ongoing learning factor’.

“What is the most significant barrier to creativity and innovation?” ‘Daring Greatly author Brene Brown asked Kevin Surace .
His response? “The fear of introducing a new idea and being laughed at.”
Brene continues “Learning and creating are inherently vulnerable. There is never enough certainty. People want guarantees.”

Desire for guarantees frequents the art industry.
It’s in the uncertain moments where magic can flourish.

In letting go of the idea creativity is a natural talent & art is a totally controllable process; like those rare brilliant sport performances, we recognize how special those gems of masterful work are.


New work in progress ( first photo) 4ft x2ft oil on canvas

Mountain ~ 4ft x3ft oil on canvas avail for purchase

Amaryllis ~ 30×40 oil on deep profile canvas avail for purchase